US News and World Report, states that, Loneliness affects 3 in 4 Americans and appears to spike in late 20’s, mid-50’s and late 80’s. If you compare the American lifestyle to the world, in general we tend to eat more quantity and exercise less. We drive rather than walk and can isolate ourselves in so many ways. This is harming our families, communities and on a broader scale our society. We must make changes and that begins with changing patterns. We have the ability to reprogram and rewire the patterns in our brain so that we can find a new way of thinking. This is called neuroplasticity, patterns we’ve created in our brain. All patterns created through neuroplasticity become habits. Which means the bad patterns are the ones that become bad habits. Neuroplasticity, is defined as the ability of the brain to change its physical structure and function based on input from your experiences, behaviors, emotions and thoughts. Changing your behavior means changing your brain. This is not based on hope, it’s based on science! You can scientifically overcome fear and in turn, reduce loneliness and isolation.
As a part of my interview series about the ‘5 Things We Can Each Do Help Solve The Loneliness Epidemic’ I had the pleasure to interview Robin Joy Meyers. TEDx Speaker, Fear Strategist, Author, and Molecular Geneticist Robin Joy Meyers educates and empowers thousands of women all over the world to claim their voices and create their best lives. With over two decades of experience and two best-selling books, Alone but Not Lonely: Reclaim Your Identity and Be Unapologetically You and The Art of Unlearning: Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone, Robin Joy is an acclaimed expert of women’s empowerment. Robin Joy specializes in science-based strategies and techniques for self-awareness, mindset, leadership, balance/boundaries and the positive power of fear to empower women with tools to change your mindset and limiting beliefs that can be put into action immediately. An expert in life transitions, Robin Joy founded her company, Navigate2Empower, to educate and empower women through executive coaching, workshops, and speaking engagements. As a young molecular geneticist, who discovered a gene in fruit ﬂies that links to their ﬂight, Robin Joy never gave herself credit for being a powerful voice in the world of science. She is a speaker taking stages to empower women to claim their voices; give themselves permission to harness fear and pivot and speak their truths. Robin has taken ﬂight and with her so will you! Robin Joy Meyers recognizes that living a life without fear isn’t realistic, and her unique approach to fear management provides women with a fresh and effective method to self-improvement, encouraging them to actively live in the moment with a conscious and courageous presence.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Robin Joy! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us? What was it that led you to your eventual career choice?
As a professional people pleaser myself, I went through my adult life checking the boxes that I thought should be checked until I was turning 53. When I turned 53, I decided to wake up and step out of my life of isolation, because at 53 yrs of age my mother died of cancer and I happened to be 21. When I turned 53, my daughter was 21, and I realized that I needed to speak my truth and find out who the real Robin Joy Meyers was aside from everyone else’s person. That was my “Ah Ha” moment or epiphany, because I felt a sense of mortality. I started to take the time to sequence the chapters of my own evolution.
Through my own evolution and development as a child, through college, graduate school, onto being wife and mother, the “I should be” and let everyone else fill in that blank for me was isolating and I realize now that it was my own fear that stood in my way.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
One of my goals in 2019 was to hopefully take a TEDx stage and in June 2019 I was fortunate to be chosen to speak at TEDxChelseaPark NYC. The title of my talk, “The Science of Loneliness and Isolation,” really made me expose my most vulnerable, authentic, raw self. I spent time on the science of my formula hiding + fear + loneliness = isolation. Fast forward three months and this women contacted me from Australia who just thanked me for sharing my story and bringing the conversation of fear and loneliness as a woman out. She too had lost her mother near the same age as I had and we both raised children of similar ages. That talk made me realize that to be the best speaker, fear strategist and molecular geneticist, I finally fully sequenced my life and I am good enough just like I mentor everyone else.
Can you share a story about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting?
I was on the Fearless Women US speaking tour in San Diego which was the third city of a 20 city tour. As I am introduced and go up to the front of the room and totally went blank. I don’t think I could have even told you my name. I wasn’t even that nervous. I just hadn’t done my normal pre-speaking routine, which I am vigilant about now. My talk was on fear, so I said, “How appropriate is this. I am here to speak to you about fear and wouldn’t you be most fearful of a speaker getting up in front of the room to only forget everything you were going to say!” Everyone, including myself, laughed. Then I composed myself and said, “let’s try this again.”
Can you tell us what lesson or takeaway you learned from that?
This moment was fantastic, because I learned that to be on a speaking tour, you must have a routine in place. Sleep, food, exercise, everything. Really important. I also learned that people are fantastic and supportive. More people came up to me telling me, “thank you for being human.” We can be messy and make mistakes and still be effective.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am working on some great projects. I have launched transformational retreats for women this year. The first is to Tuscany, Italy October 19–26, 2019. I plan to host 6–8 throughout the year. February 2020 is at Aly’s Beach, Florida; May 2020 Chianti, Italy; July 2020 Innsbruck, Austria; and Fall 2020 back to Italy.
I helped coordinate bringing The Fearless Women’s Summit from One Woman Canada to the United States for a 24 city Tour in 2019 and plan to expand for 2020 as well as bring an online summit to fruition to have a greater reach worldwide. Not everyone has access to travel, but this is where our global connectivity can do good and allow us to empower and educate others.
Can you share with our readers a bit why you are an authority about the topic of the Loneliness Epidemic?
As a molecular geneticist and fear strategist, I understand the true, not “pseudo,” science of fear, loneliness, and the neurobiology of the brain. The genetics are fascinating and recently, Dr. John Cacioppo, a neuroscience professor who studies the epigenetic impact of loneliness, recently revealed how the emotional and physical impacts, actually trigger cellular changes that not only alter gene expression, but also increases stress and aging in our bodies.
Personally, I was so afraid to be seen, heard and show my real self. The fear of disappointing everyone, kept me totally isolated. Just like the genetic mutation of the fruit fly I discovered, I had impeded my own flight.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. According to this story in Forbes, loneliness is becoming an increasing health threat not just in the US , but across the world. Can you articulate for our readers 3 reasons why being lonely and isolated can harm one’s health?
Loneliness is the next biggest public health crises to face Americans since the rise of obesity and substance abuse, and the physical effects of loneliness and social isolation are as real as any other physical detriment to the body — such as thirst, hunger, or pain. Three reasons that resonate with me are the fact that more people are becoming entrepreneurs and solopreneurs, which include working remotely therefore not interacting in the office. People do not pick up phones to talk but rather will send an email to communicate; and if you go into a public area, observe how many people are on their smartphones rather than talking.
Another reason is the negative paradigm of fear. FEAR is a physiological and scientifically proven response we all share. We all fear rejection and being judged, which is why we hide. The negatives of these fears are perceptions and patterns that we have created, which may have served us at some point in our lives, but are now holding us back. Hiding starts by not speaking the truth and staying silent. And the longer you stay silent, the more intense fear becomes. Fear is a powerful tool to listen and lean into . Allow fear to ignite and challenge you to move forward and not hold you back.
Finally, being lonely and isolated can harm’s one’s health because of lack of human interaction. As humans we are meant to coexist and interact as a species. This lack of interaction, touch and feel leads to depression, weight issues, and can lead to suicidal thoughts. I’m a scientist, I need formulas and what I have deduced is that Hiding +Fear+Loneliness =Isolation.
On a broader societal level, in which way is loneliness harming our communities and society?
US News and World Report, states that, Loneliness affects 3 in 4 Americans and appears to spike in late 20’s, mid-50’s and late 80’s. If you compare the American lifestyle to the world, in general we tend to eat more quantity and exercise less. We drive rather than walk and can isolate ourselves in so many ways. This is harming our families, communities and on a broader scale our society. We must make changes and that begins with changing patterns. We have the ability to reprogram and rewire the patterns in our brain so that we can find a new way of thinking. This is called neuroplasticity, patterns we’ve created in our brain. All patterns created through neuroplasticity become habits. Which means the bad patterns are the ones that become bad habits.
Neuroplasticity, is defined as the ability of the brain to change its physical structure and function based on input from your experiences, behaviors, emotions and thoughts. Changing your behavior means changing your brain. This is not based on hope, it’s based on science! You can scientifically overcome fear and in turn, reduce loneliness and isolation.
The irony of having a loneliness epidemic is glaring. We are living in a time where more people are connected to each other than ever before in history. Our technology has the power to connect billions of people in one network, in a way that was never possible. Yet despite this, so many people are lonely. Why is this? Can you share 3 of the main reasons why we are facing a loneliness epidemic today? Please give a story or an example for each.
There is a difference of loneliness and isolation to alone time being a powerful time of growth. With our daily use of email, texting, smart phones, professional and social media, we live in an age of instant global connectivity. We are more connected to one another today than ever before in human history, yet somehow, we’re actually increasingly feeling more alone. Here are three reasons why:
- One reason is that isolation can easily occur in the most crowded, populated areas. For instance, take the center of Times Square or even the middle of Central Park New York City. As many people are there, it is so easy to stay alone. And certainly was for me. Nobody looks up.
- Another reason is that we are introducing technology in our schools as a mandatory learning tool. Not only are our children glued to it socially, then they use it in schools to “research.” Now schools don’t even teach cursive writing as a mandatory part of curriculum anymore. Instead they require middle school students to pass a keyboarding competency test.
- Another reason is that technology allows us to hide behind others stories and compare. We as a society are failing at teaching life skills of self-awareness and self-trust. We need to embrace that everyone is unique and teach tolerance and patience. Get back to basics of playing outside and not on the computer. Reduce screen time and learn to have no phones at the dinner table parents included. Lead by example would be the best lesson.
Ok. it is not enough to talk about problems without offering possible solutions. In your experience, what are the 5 things each of us can do to help solve the Loneliness Epidemic. Please give a story or an example for each.
- Be more present and live actively in the moment.
- Stop hiding. Learn who you are and know that you are enough right here; right now.
3. Learn to truly trust yourself.
4. Be comfortable getting uncomfortable for 21 days to 1 month creating new healthier habits
5. Embrace everyone’s uniqueness and individuality. Collaborate, encourage, and look around to your neighbors. Say hello to the person sitting next to you. SMILE!
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I want to inspire a movement of woman who dare to live their best life and realize that “You Are Enough!”
The “You Are Enough or Don’t Check The Box” movement is empowerment events, education, coaching, and mentoring available internationally for women of all ages.
Through my own journey and the journeys of thousands of other women, no matter of age, color, background, demographics, I want all women to learn to trust themselves, intuition and that fear is their superpower. I want women to invest in their personal growth and not worry about the funding for that. I would like to have a scholarship fund for women entrepreneurs who are trying to build a business and invest in their development.
We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I would be honored to have a private breakfast or lunch with Michelle Obama. Yes, she is a powerhouse, but she is also a mother bringing up two young women. Michelle Obama could certainly help in raising funding for a woman’s scholarship fund as well through her influence put me in front of women around the world. My goal in 2019/2020 is to speak to 1 million women and with Michelle Obama’s help and support I feel like we can begin to create a movement for women of all ages to begin to invest in themselves worldwide.
Bring awareness, tolerance, change, equal opportunity and finial abundance . Teach skills to last for a lifetime.
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Thank you so much for these insights. This was so inspiring, and so important!